Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review of Giselle by Ballet West

Opening night, November 7, 2014


Evil ghost ballerinas surround Giselle’s two suitors and force the men to dance until they die. The scenes with the ghosts in Act II is a big reason this ballet is still being performed 173 years after its premier. The ghosts of the young maidens who were betrayed in love and died before their wedding day take the stage wearing bridal veils. The ghosts, called Wilis in the German folklore, haunted the Capitol Theater with eerie beauty that took my breath away.
Photo by Kelli Bramble

Did you know that the phrase “it gives me the willies” was made popular because of Giselle? The “Willies” (Wilis) are the spirits of young women who have died from love gone wrong, haunting forests for all eternity.

The queen of the Wilis, played by the prima ballerina, Christiana Bennett on opening night, was fierce and evil as she exacted revenge. She perfectly portrayed her character, the first woman ever who was jilted and betrayed, and has spent thousands of years taking revenge. Christiana Bennett danced masterfully and brought serious gravitas to the stage.

All the ground fog, the ominous set dressing, and the sinister music worked so perfectly with the exceptional dancing and choreography. The dancers floated across the stage with the mist swirling around them and I loved it.

Act II, The Forest, begins when Giselle’s suitor from her village, Hilarion played by Rex Tilton, arrives at her grave. Hilarion is quickly surrounded by the Wilis and they make him dance until he dies. Rex Tilton had what I believe is his best performance ever. I wished the choreography would have showed his actual death, but this ballet dates from 1841 when it debuted in Paris to rave reviews. Giselle is still incredibly relevant and has been adapted for a modern audience, though it  feels like a classic from another age.

Act I, Harvest Time (in a village in the German Rhineland) starts out a bit slow, with Giselle’s suitor in her village, Hilarion vying for her heart. Giselle, played beautifully by Arolyn Williams, has fallen in love with a handsome stranger, Prince Albrecht played by principal artist Christopher Ruud, who has been visiting Giselle for the past two weeks in disguise as a commoner.

She has fallen deeply in love with him all the while not knowing he is a Prince. Arolyn Williams did such an amazing job portraying the character. Her dancing, especially her solo work blew me away. In one sequence in Act I she stands on her toes—on one foot!—and crosses the entire stage. I’ve never seen anything like it.

You’ll have to watch the ballet to learn how Giselle dies at the end of Act I, but it’s shocking and dramatic. The build-up to the climactic end of Act I is quite long, and I did find the waltz sections when the villagers were celebrating the harvest somewhat tedious, but the dancing during those scenes was excellent. Over fifty dancers were part of this production, and Ballet West has to give everyone in the company some time on stage to showcase their skills, which they did wonderfully. All of the scenes with the villagers in Act I were beautiful, but my favorite parts involved Beckanne Sisk and Sayaka Ohtaki, who danced solos and showed their brilliance.

The love triangle aspect with spurned and angry Hilarion fighting with Prince Albrecht in Act I over Giselle was extremely interesting, but it was all about the second act for me. Seeing the Wilis, especially their queen and her two hench-women (Emily Adams and Alison DeBona on opening night) was the highlight.

The final scenes with the ghost of Giselle and Prince Albrecht were awesome. I used my opera glasses to see Arolyn’s expression at the very end when she disappeared inside her grave. She perfectly captured the tragedy and redemption of Giselle, a classic ballet, now made into a modern masterpiece by Ballet West.

My wife and I are strongly considering going again to see rising star, Beckanne Sisk take on the lead role of Giselle with Chirstopher Ruud again playing Albrecht. We both love Christopher’s dancing, and he’s a master of his craft. We want to see him and Beckanne dance together.

Giselle runs from November 7-16, 2014 at Capitol Theater. To read a summary of the entire ballet or learn more, please visit Ballet West’s website.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

MAZERUNNER MOVIE REVIEW


I watched the Maze Runner movie and loved it. What a great adaptation of the exciting book by James Dashner. It totally captured the feeling of the novel and follows the main events of the plot. The director and screenwriters streamlined the complicated events in the book that would not translate to the screen, and the plot was so exciting to watch unfold onscreen, even more than in the book.

The movie was a thrill ride from beginning to end, and I’m super impressed, though some of the shaky cam during the actions scenes bugged my eyes. Regardless, the talented young actors nailed their performances and were just incredible to watch. They are the real deal and I’m so happy they found such perfect actors for the roles. The maze was stunning and the visual effects were top notch, which is hard to fathom considering the total budget was only $34 million.

I watched the movie with three friends (Stephenie McKinnon, Patrick Tracy, and Jake Balamis), none of whom had read the book. They all enjoyed the film. Jake was thoroughly entertained, and he loved that he didn’t know how it was going to end. The ending was almost exactly the same as the book, (except the movie seemed a little stronger to me—the way it all played out in a blow by blow sense--a gun instead of a knife worked well for me). I think enough information was given out to provide the viewer with closure, but we were shown that there is a lot more to come. This is far from over.





As we were leaving the IMAX theater at Jordan Commons we ran into James Dashner and his family. He was at another showing that just got out, (his seventh viewing of the film!). I’d spoken with James about the film in the past a couple of times, once when we watched a different movie together, and I’m so happy for him. He’s a big movie lover and goes to the cinema a lot. He loves The Maze Runner movie and said he “agreed 100% with all the changes made” when comparing the book to the movie. I do as well.

The director and writers did a wonderful job. The pacing of books is different than movies, and the book had to be changed to make it work. Overall, the Maze Runner movie was excellent and I was thoroughly entertained.

Go and check this movie out in the theater, as the big screen adds a lot to the experience, especially IMAX, which also provided a BOOMING score. I will soon own the soundtrack.

I’m excited to see Maze Runner again.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

MY NEW ADVENTURE



After 17 years of working the night shift as a cardiac nurse in the Advanced Cardiac Care Unit, I am officially changing jobs to a new position in my company. My last shift on ACVU will be Tuesday night, September 16. I’m going to miss my co-workers a lot and want to thank them all for being my friends. I would have never lasted this long without you, and it’s been a tremendous honor to work with you all.

The details: On Friday afternoon, September 5 (while at Salt Lake Comic Con), I officially accepted the job as an analyst for the iCentra (Cerner) team. I had gone through two rounds of interviews and on August 25, I was told I unofficially had the job. Administrative delays—which left me very unsettled—prevented the official offer from coming until almost two weeks later.

My new manager will be Diane Rindlisbacher and I’m starting my new job on September 29. I will be helping to configure the new computer charting system (Cerner) that Intermountain Healthcare is going to start using in the future. I will also be a liaison between the clinical users and the programmers. It’s a day shift, and for the most part, a 9-5 kind of job.

I’ve been working in patient care on the front lines for 18 years, more like 21 counting nursing school, and I’m ready for a change. My health is suffering from working the night shift. I don’t bounce back as well as I used to. Also, I need more structure in my life, as changing from a night to a day schedule on a weekly basis is messing up my personal and writing life.

My lovely wife, Tammy, will also benefit from a more normal schedule. We’re both looking forward to a new life together where we both sleep at the same time and are on the same schedule. I think we’re both going to be happier.

I’m in desperate need of a change. The stress of being a charge nurse was really wearing me down. Taking care of extremely ill and difficult patients, and coping with all the sick calls from staff who are truly sick, or just mentally exhausted, has taken its toll on me over the past two years especially. Working short staffed, or even when we were fully staffed, in patient care is getting harder and harder.

I’ve sacrificed a lot over the years in both my personal and professional life, while working as a nurse. I feel like I’ve given enough and I’ve finally reached the point where I need to try something new.

My coworkers are amazing people and in my new job I’ll be helping to set up the new computer charting system that will hopefully make their lives easier. The transition for them and all of us will be a challenge, but I will fight for them and do all I can to make it serve their needs.

Thank you all for your support, and though I’m changing jobs, I’m going to keep fighting the good fight for the staff and the patients.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

SALT LAKE COMIC CON 2014

My coolest moment was interviewing Simon Helberg, one of the stars of The Big Bang Theory on the main stage in front of 3,000 fans. It was awesome.

Here's a link to all my pics from Salt Lake Comic Con on Facebook:

 

A pic taken after the Zombie Rock Opera, where I was the MC. It was so hilarious.
Pictured are the stars: Jack Bauer, Bub the Zombie, and Jack's girlfriend, Miley Cyrus.


 Gollum stole a fish from the Weta Booth, and I caught him. Don't worry, he gave it back.

 This is the panel on adapting books to movie. The cinematic book trailer for The Golden Cord premiered here. It looked awesome, though it's not the exact final version. It'll come out around the beginning of October 2014.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Paul's Fantasy Con / WesterCon 2014 Schedule

















Fantasy-Con & WesterCon Schedule of Paul Genesse

Thursday July 3

The Fantasy-Con Hall opens at 9:00 AM for those with VIP badges, at 10:00 AM for everyone else. I’ll be at Booth #640 from 9:00AM-11:20AM.


July 3, Thursday 11:00-11:50 Room 250
(Attending—as a fan) AN UNOFFICIAL PREVIEW OF THE HOBBIT: The Battle of Five Armies - A look at the rumors, clues, facts, and speculation about the capstone of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies from the website that has followed the production from Day 1.

Lunch 12-1—Meet with Jason King, Julie Henderson, and Dennis Lundstrom about our Dwarves Rule! Panel and the Tolkien’s World Panel.





"Melian and Thingol" by Kip Rasmussen

July 3, Thursday 1:00-1:50 Room 150 DEF
Tolkien’s World: The Lifeblood of Modernity. A discussion led by author, Silmarillion illustrator, and psychologist Dr. Kip Rasmussen about aspects of the fantasy genre and why they are not just “fun”, but of vital importance in a technologically saturated modern world. Jason King—Moderator, Paul Genesse, and Kip Rasmussen.






July 3, Thursday 2:00– 2:50 Room 150 DEF
Dwarves Rule! A look at Dwarves and what we love about them the ever-popular fantasy race. Join the discussion about Tolkien’s Dwarves, the origin of their names, Scandinavian Dwarf myths, and other modern representations. Enjoy a fun slide show featuring all the Dwarf actors present at FantasyCon. Moderated by author Paul Genesse, with Dennis Lundstrom of UGeek Media and Tolkien enthusiast Jason King and Tolkien expert Julie Henderson.

Spend time at Booth #640 in the hall from 3-4?

Thursday July 3, 5:00-5:50 Main Ballroom
Middle-earth Kick-off Party! (I’ll be a guest on stage!)
The largest collection of middle-earth actors, artists, writers, and talent at any convention ever! Artists, musicians, writers, internet reporters and a Tolkien all take the stage. Don't miss it!

Dinner with new friends.


Fantasy-Con & WesterCon Schedule of Paul Genesse

Friday July 4

July 4 Friday at 10:00-10:50 (I’m leaving the panel early) WesterCon Panel at the Marriott Hotel. Wasatch (Alta) Room. Putting a New Spin on an Old Story: A discussion of The Hobbit and Battlestar Galactica. (Putting a new spin on an old story: A discussion on the 'reboots', 'reimaginings' or 'refilming' of the same story). David West, Paul Genesse , Dave Farland (m), Mark Ryan.

July 4, Friday 2014 11:00am-11:50am Main Ballroom (Attending as a fan)
John Rhys-Davies Spotlight on his amazing career in "Lord Of The Rings" Trilogy, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989)

Lunch 11:30-12:30

July 4 Friday 1:00-1:50 Room 151 (attending as a fan) The One Ring.net The Legacy of Tolkien
With an all-volunteer staff, TORn has watched Jackson adapt Middle-earth from the front row and has talked Tolkien with people all over the globe. Join the discussion

July 4 Friday 2:00pm - 2:50pm (attending as a fan) (Main Ballroom)
Hobbit Fans: Extended Edition Live
Actors reenact some of the scenes from the Hobbit with much needed audience participation!

July 4, Friday 3:00-3:50 (attending as a fan) (Main Ballroom)
The Fellowship Revisited with Sean Astin and Billy Boyd. Sean Astin and Billy Boyd revisit cinematic history to discuss those unprecedented years working on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy with these two featured as part of the Fellowship of actors.




















July 4, Friday 4:00-4:50 PM Ballroom 2, Brandon Sanderson Spotlight.
(I will be introducing Brandon and serving as the moderator)
Brandon Sanderson is an American writer. He is best known for his "Mistborn" series and finishing Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series "The Wheel of Time". Sanderson published "The Way of Kings", the first book in a ten book series called "The Stormlight Archive".

(Snack break 5-6 PM) (Meet with Daniel Swenson and Bob Defendi)




July 4, Friday 6:00-6:50 PM Room 150 DEF
“Dragons in myth, Film, Literature and Legend” Dragons are the most iconic monsters of all time and have fascinated us for millennia. Explore the origin of dragons with our expert panel as they discuss ancient and modern representations of the world’s most famous beast with author Paul Genesse--Moderator, Bob Defendi, and Daniel Swenson of Dungeon Crawlers radio, and possibly the artist, Brom.


Dinner

July 5, Saturday

July 5, Saturday, Spend time at Booth #640 from 9:00-9:50 AM.

July 5, Saturday 10:00-10:50 AM (I’m leaving the panel early), WesterCon Panel at the Marriott Hotel. Wasatch (Alta) room. Translating Fantasy Literature to Film. Mark Ryan, David West (m), Paul Genesse, Steven L. Sears Translating Fantasy Literature to Film: A discussion of screen-adaptations of books.


July 5, 12:00-12:50 Main Ballroom Sean Astin Spotlight Interview.
(I’ll be introducing Sean and interviewing him)
With unforgettable roles in Goonies and Rudy and credit list in television (24), video games and movies of every kind, we have a sit down with our Sam to discuss his career. Audience questions welcomed too.

July 5, Saturday 1:00-1:50 Room 150 ABC. TheOneRing.net, Adapting Tolkien Peter Jackson wasn’t the first to adapt Tolkien and surely will not be the last. A look at the many ways and forms Tolkien has invaded popular culture in film, radio, television and music.
Larry Curtis—Moderator, Paul Genesse, and ?

Spend time at the booth #640 2-3:30




(I'll be introducing and interviewing John Rhys-Davies and Peter Hamblin on stage.)
July 5, Saturday 4:00-4:50 Main Ballroom. Gimli and Gloin, Actors John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) and Peter Hambleton (Gloin) come together to talk about their characters.

5-6 Quick bite of dinner or possibly spend a few minutes at Booth #640.

July 5, Saturday 6:00-9:00 PM--WesterCon Book Signing and Tag Team Jeopardy & The Avenue of Awesomeness. Marriott Hotel. 6:00-9:00. Salon B&C&D&E. Author book signing and rotating jeopardy panels for your enjoyment--see how the authors let their fun out.

Dinner—Have some food brought to the author signing.


Sunday: Nothing scheduled. Go home!